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Opinion Editorials

Premium WordPress Themes – Not Your Average Theme



revolution-tech.jpgAnyone that uses WordPress blogging platform knows that there was a severe drought in themes this past year.  Searching for new themes in 2006 would return you themes created in 2005- welcome to boring.

The cry for WordPress CMS style themes as well as a more professional 2.0 bend brought a fantastic designer into the limelight, that designer being Brian GardnerThe Revolution Themes designed by him with a CMS / Magazine style interface appears to have opened a new craze in the WordPress theme world.  These Premium themes start in price from $49 all the way up to $100 for a single license with Brians themes landing in the $79 range and up (not bad).  Some of the themes are worth every penny, other themes designed by others are ripoffs of other themes, but for a price, the theme drought is over. 

Here’s the thing with WordPress themes, even the new Premium themes- they can be complicated in many cases, there’s no money back guarantee, and they lack automation.  Also, these themes leak SEO due to percieved repeat content by search engines and require close management and adjustment using SEO plugins. 

Another issue I have is the idea of charging for the initial theme without allowing access to the admin panel.  Many of these larger CMS style themes require modification of content independently of the blog- for example setting up featured articles or new stories- these updates may require you to update featured content often as opposed to static content.

So here are a few tips & suggestions

for new and seasoned WordPress users when looking at themes to purchase.

  • Before dropping coin on a pretty premium theme, you need to discover the purpose of your site in general.  Content Management Systems are more like websites with a blog background.
  • Read the tutorials section of the theme you’re contemplating.  Read each tutorial to discover your depth of knowledge editing the various regions of the theme.
  • Click through the demos of the themes placing your content in the various sections in your mind (or on paper as I do)- does it work for your situation?  Do not assume it is simple to remove or add sections as a removal of a section could destroy the themes look and navigation although re-purposing a section is generally the way to go.
  • Seek out the level of assistance that comes with the theme- is the designer willing to work with you to work out solutions to your unique needs- if not, move on.
  • Is there a forum that addresses code or theme problems (premium doesn’t mean perfect)?
  • Are the plugins needed to use as the theme is demonstrated, packed into the theme already for installation?  For $49 dollars and up they should be.
  • Never purchase a Premium theme similar to another in your profession unless you intend on having a professional designer change your theme dramatically.  Many newer, less savvy agents must understand that just because you’ve been okay with template sites like advanced access and xsites in the past does not mean someone who is live / self hosted already will want their design copied – be creative and be unique, theft of layout and design is not a compliment, nor is copying the branding or copyof someone elses site.  (here’s an awesome example of CSS & copy theft.)

Suggested Designers: (Designers I personally like)

Brian and Cory have teamed up on a new internet venture centered around site design – will be bringing you more, so stay tuned!

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network for tech and entrepreneurs, proudly celebrating 10 years in publishing, recently ranked as the #5 startup in Austin. Before founding AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation and also acquired several other firms. His resume prior includes roles at Apple and Kroger Foods, specializing in marketing, communications, and technology integration. He is a recipient of the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), has built partnerships and bridges between tech recruiters and the best tech talent in the industry, and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular monthly networking events. Benn does not venture into the spotlight often, rather believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits, develops, and gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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  1. Robert D. Ashby

    January 18, 2008 at 9:45 am

    Benn – I like the Rev Tech theme, except I don’t see it working for most of our blogging styles. I tend to like the neoclassical theme and a few others, then tweaking them as I learn more about programming (my company site is html only and needs upgrading also).

    I am currently pursuing a changeover from my current Typepad to WordPress under the same host as I feel WordPress presents better opportunities (running a mirror site right now). What do you think?

  2. Benn Rosales

    January 18, 2008 at 9:48 am

    WordPress as CMS for a company site is the only reason you would want to do it- it’s a blog with a landing page and architecture for your content.

  3. Drew Meyers

    January 18, 2008 at 11:03 am

    I like both Brian and Cory as designers as well — Brian is the guy behind the theme on Zillow Blog, and Cory designed Geek Estate (and I use a theme of his on my personal blog as well as the CoRE blog). That’s awesome they’ve teamed up.

  4. Cory Miller

    January 18, 2008 at 11:25 am

    Benn, thanks for the link and comments! We’re pumped about offering quality themes for small business-type websites. I think the SEO benefits that WordPress brings to the table, coupled with well-designed themes, offer a lot to local businesses looking for new customers, such as realtors.

    Drew, thanks for the nice comments as well!

  5. Benn Rosales

    January 18, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    I agree totally…

  6. Carson Coots

    January 18, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Rev Mag is what I am working with right now, and it wasn’t the easiest thing in the world to figure out. Plus you have to make sure the images are a consistent size, and those thumbnails dont create themselves.

    Check this out:

  7. Jay Thompson

    January 18, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Benn – what you’ve done with Revolution at is nothing short of art. Fine art. You are the master.

    That the guy at stole your copy verbatim is a crime. Literally.

    The problem I’m seeing with “premium” themes is they are becoming as widespread as free themes. While the number of sites using Revolution will never approach the numbers of something like a K2 theme, they are really beginning to pop up — particularly the “magazine style” themes. I wonder if any of these theme developers have ever considered issuing “limited editions”. I can understand why they don’t, as the amount of work developing a theme is considerable. But as the popular ones begin to become widespread, it does dilute the “specialness” of the premiums.

    Curious here… You say, “Never purchase a Premium theme similar to another in your profession unless you intend on having a professional designer change your theme dramatically”. I don’t understand why someone that purchases a theme should be required to change the theme dramatically. Why is a purchased theme any different than a free one? How is an agent to know if some other agent out there is using a similar theme???

  8. Benn Rosales

    January 18, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    You’re not required to do anything. Add a little 2.0 thinking to the rationality behind my statement and it’s obvious the point is to be above or a step beyond what would be normal. If you want to be average, why buy a premium theme?

    But let me take this to another level here – if you’re no longer busting out a monthly fee for template built sites like xsite or advanced, then obviously you’ve saved some cash, why not invest one year of monthly payment to the design of your site. Then, you’re more likely to be unique and set apart in your market.

    Seperate niche applications of a premium theme is not at issue here- I’m thinking ahead Xs 1.4 million… go bigger than the last or don’t go at all.

    You make both of my points here: “But as the popular ones begin to become widespread, it does dilute the “specialness” of the premiums.”

  9. Benn Rosales

    January 18, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    and by the way, don’t kid yourself, these premium themes are getting more dull by the day, the overall intent is to capture new business and that business is to design you something special. If not, it’s still an out of the box application.

  10. Carson Coots

    January 18, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    The average joe that doesn’t spend 15 hours a day scouring blogs and wordpress themes can’t even tell a K2 from a Revolution from a MistyLook. I don’t think there is too much to worry about as long as the headers/colors are tweaked. Man, in my office, they wouldn’t even know a kubrick if it slapped them in the face.

  11. Daniel Rothamel

    January 19, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    I’m a Revolution fan, duh. I agree that using the premium themes isn’t necessarily easy, but in the case of Revolution, the free support forum is excellent. Plenty of good advice and helpful people.

    I do agree that a theme such as Revolution is basically a blog with a landing page, but in my case, and in the case of our brokerage blog, that is exactly what I want. It offers flexibility. I need to get to tweaking the SEO.

    As far as what guys like you and Rudy Bachraty are doing with Revolution– impressive.

    One day, one day. . .

  12. Steve Belt

    January 27, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Benn, I’m a bit behind in my multi-author blog reading, but I had some time this weekend, and finally did a tiny bit of catching up, when I stumbled upon this. I completely agree with Jay… is an astounding implementation of Revolution.

    I’ve sent a request off to Brian Gardner, asking him to work his magic for me. I hope my lame website, which has a theme many agent websites share (and did I mention how lame it is?) will get Revolutionized. If he can’t take on my little project, I’ll have to do it myself, but I’d really rather he did it.

  13. Steve Belt

    January 27, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    PS- Thanks to this, my catching up on reading blogs was completely thrown into a tail spin…but that’s a good thing.

  14. Benn Rosales

    January 27, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    Steve, I aim to please… happy Sunday!

  15. Benn Rosales

    January 27, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    Steve – did you see this?

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Opinion Editorials

How to sound more confident in your next interview or office email

(OPINION/EDITORIAL) After COVID, collectively, our social skills need a little TLC. What words and phrases can you use to sound more confident at work?



Interview with woman and a man opposite as they each sound more confident/

In-person work communications are on the rise, and it’s no surprise that, collectively, our social skills need a little bit of work. CNBC shares some examples of common phrases people tend to use when uncomfortable – and what you should use to replace them to sound more confident in your next interview or office email.

After explaining a personal philosophy or situation, it’s all too common to say, “Does that make sense?” Aside from occasionally sounding patronizing, this question more or less implies that you believe your worldview or lived experiences to require validation. CNBC suggests saying “I’d like to hear your input” or – if you’re in an inquisitive mood – asking “What are your thoughts?” instead.

This invites the interviewer to give feedback or continue the conversation without devaluing your own perspective.

CNBC also recommends getting rid of weak introductions, listing examples like “For what it’s worth” and “In my opinion” in order to sound more confident. Certainly, most of us have used these phrases to recuse ourselves from perceived criticism in meetings or emails; the problem is that they become an indicator of lacking self-confidence, at least for employers.

Simply jumping straight into whatever it is you have to say without the soft-paws introduction is sure to be appreciated by higher-ups and colleagues alike.

Passive voice is another thing you should remove from your communication when trying to sound more confident. For example, saying “I performed this action because…” instead of “This action was performed because…” shows ownership; whether you’re taking credit for an innovative decision or copping to a mistake, taking responsibility with the language you use is always better than removing yourself from the narrative.

“I’m not positive, but…” is yet another common phrase that CNBC eschews, opting instead to start with whatever comes after the “but”. It’s always good to maintain a certain amount of humility, but that’s not what this phrase is doing – it’s getting out in front of your own process and undermining it before anyone else has a chance to evaluate it. Regardless of your position or responsibilities, you should always give your thoughts the credit they deserve.

Finally, CNBC suggests removing perhaps the most undervalued phrase on this list: “I’m sorry.” There is absolutely a time and place to apologize, but “sorry” gets thrown around the office when a simple “excuse me” would suffice. Apologizing in these situations belies confidence, and it makes actual apologies – when they’re necessary – seem hollow.

The language people use is powerful, and as arbitrarily contrite as the workplace may inspire many to feel, humility can absolutely coexist with confidence.

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Opinion Editorials

10 tips for anyone looking to up their professional work game

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) It’s easy to get bogged down by the details, procrastinate, and feel unproductive. Here are a few tips to help you crush your work goals.



work productivity

Self-reflection is critical to a growth mindset, which you must have if you want to grow and improve. If you are ready to take your professional game to the next level, here are some stories and tips to help you remain focused on killing your work goals.

1. Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison is the thief of joy, as the quote goes. And, in the workplace it’s bound to make you second guess yourself and your abilities. This story explains when comparison can be useful, when to avoid it, and how to change your focus if it’s sucking the life out of you.

2. Burnout is real and the harder you work, the less productive you are. It’s an inverse relationship. But, there are ways to work smarter and have better life balance. Here are some tips to prioritize your workload and find more ease.

3. Stop procrastinating and start getting sh@t done. The reason we procrastinate may be less about not wanting to do something and more about the emotions underlying the task. Ready to get going and stop hemming and hawing, you got this and here’s the way to push through.

4. Perfection is impossible and if you seek this in your work and life, it’s likely you are very frustrated. Let that desire go and learn to be happy with excellence over perfection.

5. If you think you’re really awesome and seriously deserve more money, more responsibility, more of anything and are ready to drop the knowledge on your supervisor or boss, you may want to check this story out to see if your spinning in the right direction.

6. Technology makes it so easy to get answers so quickly, it’s hard to wait around for things to happen. We like instant gratification. Yet, that is another reason procrastination is a problem for some of us, but every person has a different way/reason for procrastinating. Learn what’s up with that.

7. Making choices can be a challenge for some of us (me included) who worry we are making the wrong choice. If you’ve ever struggled with decision making, you know it can be paralyzing and then you either make no decision or choose the safest option. What we have here is the Ambiguity Effect and it can be a real time suck. Kick ambiguity to the curb.

8. If you are having trouble interacting with colleagues or wondering why you don’t hear back from contacts it could be you are creeping folks out unintentionally (we hope). Here’s how to #belesscreepy.

9. In the social media era building your brand and marketing are critical, yet, if you’re posting to the usual suspects and seeing very little engagement, you’ve got a problem. Wharton Business School even did a study on how to fix the situation and be more shareable.

10. Every time you do a presentation that one co-worker butts in and calls you out. Dang. If you aren’t earning respect on the job, you will be limited in your ability to get to the next level. Respect is critical to any leadership position, as well as to making a difference in any role you may have within an organization, but actions can be misconstrued. There are ways to take what may be negative situations and use them to your advantage, building mutual respect.

You have the tools you need, now get out there, work hard, play hard, and make sh*t happen. Oh, and remember, growth requires continual reflection and action, but you got this.

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Opinion Editorials

The actual reasons people choose to work at startups

(EDITORIAL) Startups have a lot going for them, environment, communication, visible growth. But why else would you work for one?



leadership Startups meeting led by Black woman.

Startups are perpetually viewed as the quintessential millennial paradise with all of the accompanying perks: Flexible hours, in-house table tennis, and long holidays. With this reputation so massively ingrained in the popular perception of startups, is it foolish to think that their employees actually care about the work that startup companies accomplish?

Well, yes and no.

The average startup has a few benefits that traditional business models can’t touch. These benefits often include things like open communication, a relaxed social hierarchy, and proximity to the startup’s mission. That last one is especially important: While larger businesses keep several degrees of separation between their employees and their end goals, startups put the stakes out in the open, allowing employees to find personal motivation to succeed.

When employees find themselves personally fulfilled by their work, that work reaps many of the benefits in the employee’s dedication, which in turn helps the startup propagate. Many aspiring startup employees know this and are eager to “find themselves” through their work.

Nevertheless, the allure of your average startup doesn’t always come from the opportunity to work on “something that matters.”

Tiffany Philippou touches on this concept by pointing out that “People come to work for you because they need money to live… [s]tartups actually offer pretty decent salaries these days.”

It’s true that many employees in their early to late twenties will likely take any available job, so assuming that your startup’s 25-and-under employee base is as committed to finding new uses for plastic as you are maybe a bit naïve—indeed, this is a notion that holds true for any business, regardless of size or persuasion.

However, startup experience can color a young employee’s perception of their own self-worth. This allows them to pursue more personally tailored employment opportunities down the road—and that’s not a bad legacy to have.

Additionally, startups often offer—and even encourage—a level of personal connection and interactivity that employees simply won’t find in larger, more established workplaces. That isn’t symptomatic of startups being too laid-back or operating under loosely defined parameters. Instead, it’s a clue that work environments that facilitate personalities rather than rote productivity may stand to get more out of their employees.

Finally, your average startup has a limited number of spots, each of which has a clearly defined role and a possibility for massive growth. An employee of a startup doesn’t typically have to question their purpose in the company—it’s laid out for them; who are we to question their dedication to fulfilling it?

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